PREVIEW: PACKERS (0-0) vs. TEXANS (0-0)
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where: Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
Broadcast: Radio – WTMJ AM 620. Television – Channel 4 in Milwaukee and the Packers Television Network across the state.
Packers – Not expected to play are: WR Trevor Davis (stinger), RB Tra Carson (neck spasm), TE Jace Sternberger (concussion evaluation and jaw), C Corey Linsley (biceps), LB Curtis Bolton (groin), CB Kevin King (hamstring), RB Aaron Jones (hamstring), RB Jamaal Williams (hamstring), OLB Kendall Donnerson (hamstring) and DT Fadol Brown (calf). OLB Preston Smith (back) is questionable. CB Josh Jackson (foot) is on the non-football injury list and LB Greg Roberts (core muscle injury) is on the physically unable to perform list. Texans – DE J.J. Watt (groin), QB A.J. McCarron (thumb), TE Jordan Thomas (hamstring), C Nick Martin (hamstring), CB Aaron Colvin (undisclosed) and CB Jermaine Kelly (undisclosed) are among those that are either questionable or won’t play.
Five things to watch
1. Two-minute warning: Based on the debacle that was the two-minute offense Tuesday in practice against the Texans, the Packers appear to be a long way from being a consistent offense. Coach Matt LaFleur was not happy with the drill, which included sacks, penalties and missed throws. Getting a first down was almost impossible. LaFleur has not installed the no-huddle offense, but the two-minute is its own feature and has been practiced, so if it comes up Thursday night, there will be no built-in excuses.
2. Just for kicks: The battle between incumbent Mason Crosby and challenger Sam Ficken begins in earnest. Crosby kicked field goals for the first time Monday after missing the first eight practices with a calf injury. He went 5-for-6. Ficken hit all six of his from the same distances and is 17-for-20 in attempts against a rush since camp began. Kickoffs will be important, too.
3. Rundown: With Jones, Williams and probably Carson out, rookie Dexter Williams, free agent Corey Grant, waiver pick-up Darrin Hall and fullback/third-down back Danny Vitale will get the bulk of the running-game work. Keith Ford, who was claimed on waivers Tuesday, probably won’t play. If the Packers can gain yardage with this group, it will say something about where they are with the run game.
4. Rookie initiation: Safety Darnell Savage missed almost a week of camp because of oral surgery and didn’t start participating in team drills until Sunday. However, he took part in both practices against the Texans and said he’s ready to play. The second of the team’s two first-round picks said his transition back to being a starter has been smooth and he’s ready for whatever the Texans throw at him. He needs as much playing time as possible if he’s going to be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 5 at Chicago.
5. Tackling drill: The Packers gave up on backup tackle Jason Spriggs, waiving injured the former second-round pick Tuesday. It means second-year pro Alex Light is their swing tackle behind Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari for now. Light is better suited for left tackle, but if he can learn to take on an opponents’ bull rush, he has a chance to play both positions. If he gets steamrolled, look for Billy Turner or Adam Pankey to get more reps at right tackle. Turner has been the starter at right guard and Pankey has been playing both guard and tackle.